Learn to Play Go with Learn to Play Go (Part 3)

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Learn to Play Go 3In Volume I and II of the Learn to Play Go Series, Janice Kim and Jeong Soo-hyun teach beginners all of the essentials and gameplay of Go.

In Volume III, The Dragon Style, Kim and Soo-hyun move the scene of battle from the field of knowledge to the actual Go board and one’s inner self.

Who should read it?

Beginners who are having difficulties applying their basic knowledge of Go while playing will benefit from Volume III. You can already play a decent game of Go with the lessons you learned from Volume I and II. However, with the improper mindset (in my opinion, Go is 50% intellectual, 50% psychological), you may forget or overlook crucial concepts. Go is so complex; your emotions can override your reason with just a simple slip!

What can I learn from it?

Volume III has two parts: The Dragon Style and Real Games. The first part is the focus of the book, it seems, based on the title.

Part 1 discusses the seven dangers and eight secrets when playing Go.

Seven Dangers

  1. Fear
  2. Agitation
  3. Greed
  4. Thoughtlessness
  5. Irrationality
  6. Anger
  7. Envy

Eight Secrets

  1. Choose Profit Over Glory
  2. Rush to Plant Your Flag
  3. Drive Towards Your Thickness
  4. Stay Connected
  5. Watch Your Vital Signs
  6. Minimum Effort, Maximum Profit
  7. Style Counts
  8. Hold the Line

Note that the eight secrets are general gameplay techniques and lean on the intellectual aspect of the game while the seven dangers lean more on the psychological aspect.

Kim and Soo-hyun wrong variations on the board as the result of the seven dangers. They include the proper variations one should play after overcoming dangers. The discussion of the eight secrets include some basic tesuji, good shape, and direction of play.

Part 2 include games between two professional Go players, a nine-stone handicap game, and a three-stone handicap game. The first game is the most interesting because Kim and Soo-hyun analyses the game from opening to endgame. The discussions include some basic joseki and both correct and wrong variations. The endgame discussion gives the beginner a glimpse of how difficult it is to determine the most valuable moves during endgame. Game 2 is interesting because it shows how proper play can turn the game around even after one big group dies. Game 3’s lesson is on the proper use of thickness.

There are short essays throughout the book about taking back a move (an absolute taboo in Go), how to improve, thickness, and handicap Go.

Why is it great?

Not a lot of books will focus on a player’s mindset during a match. Most beginners may overlook the importance of watching out for the seven dangers and taking advantage of the eight secrets. In a game, a truckload of knowledge becomes useless when one succumbs to a pinch of any of the seven dangers. The sample games will also help beginners get a feel of how the stones move on the board and how a game progresses from one stage to the next.

The book ends with a Test Yourself. Twenty-five questions that include whole-board problems and half-board problems will require one to look at the existing situation and the subsequent variations to arrive at the correct answer. Just an advice: find the correct goal or reason behind the move instead of the correct move. Also, try to find the correct variation. If you are surprised at the answer, despite finding correct the move, then you did not look for the correct goal, reason, and variation.

How can it improve my knowledge and gameplay of Go?

When it comes to knowledge, Volume III does not offer much compared to what you already learned from Volume I and II. However, this volume should introduce you to the proper mindset when playing Go. I will reiterate; a proper mindset amplifies your knowledge of Go. An encyclopaedia of Go knowledge will be useless if you always fall for the seven dangers and ignore the eight secrets.

Volume III has a ranking chart before the Test Yourself. According to the chart, after reading Volume II and III, you can expect a rating of 14 kyu. Do not be discouraged, though. The climb on the Go ladder is difficult. Take it one-step at a time.

END

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